Close up on Featherston

Close up on Featherston

Jenny Butler
Aug 27, 2008

[Pictured: Contour Ottoman, Scape Armchair & Dining Chair D350]
While there are many amazing 20th century designs out there that we like and respect, for us Featherston is the only name we really crave. Local furniture designer Grant Featherston (1922 – 1995) is best known for the Contour Series, from 1951-1955. This work was inspired by curves that mirror the human body and was created using a self-developed method of moulding plywood.

[Pictured: Chaise Lounge Z300, Contour Chair R152 in cown hide and velour & Settee RS161]
In 1957 Featherston was appointed as consultant designer at local Melbourne manufacture, Aristoc Industries. During this partnership they developed many iconic Australian pieces including the Mitzi (1957) & Scape (1960). In 1966 he and his wife Mary became business partners and together with Aristoc Industries they created the Expo 67 Talking Chair (1967) and the Stem chair (1969). The Stem chair took over 2 years to reach production stage as they were continually searching for more ways to create affordable quality designs, experimenting with different manufacturing techniques and finding the most efficient way to use their materials. At the time the Stem chair was one of the most technologically sophisticated chairs in Australia.

[Pictured: Mitzi & Scape Armchair]

After the collapse of Aristoc, the Poli fibreglass chair was made by Polyfiber Products (1971). The Charlton lounge [comprising of a two seater, two corner chairs, one individual chair and a rectangular ottoman] was created out of polyurethane foam/ABS plastic/wool (1973).  

[Pictured: Expo 67 Talking Chair & Stem Dining Setting]

In 1987 Gordon Mather Industries purchased the rights to reproduce a number of different Featherston designs. They will also restore originals and we've heard a lot of glowing reports of their work.
[Pictured: Poli Chair & Charlton Lounge Suite]

Anything marked with a Featherston stamp and in original condition will fetch you a small fortune on eBay- recently a pair of armed Contour chairs that were in desperate need of restoration sold for $18,000 and a set of 6 dining chairs for $20,000. However, anything without the stamp but obviously Featherston can get between $600 and $7,000 depending on what the item is. 

Currently, Mary Featherston is a designer of creative primary school spaces and children's storage using the same ideals that both she and Grant shared. You can visit her website here.

[photos from Gordon Mather Industries & Powerhouse Museum]

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